How These Energy Pills Buck Tradition with a Delightfully Unconventional Bottle Packaging
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 10/26/2017 | 4 Minute Read
Photography by: Maggie West
Abacus in an entirely different league from traditional energy drinks and supplements. Ryder Ripps, who worked with nutritionists and doctors to create this new energy pill, wanted to create something that would be healthier, cheaper, and more effective than other options out there—and that’s where Abacus comes in. “We offer a blend of the highest quality compounds in a logical and pleasing form factor,” he explained. “The B12 we use is the best quality available, and much more effective because of this.”
Something this unique deserves equally standout packaging, and Ryder was adamant about ditching the conventional pill bottle and going with something different—even when he was told it couldn’t be done. We talked with Ryder to learn a little more about developing this unique bottle shape, the value of not just going the easiest or cheapest route, and more.
Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.
Ryder Ripps: The first step is always complaining. Figuring out why something falls short, finding a way to fix it. With the packing the complaint was that conventional bottles are bulky, boring and the pills inevitably spill out upon pouring-fixing those issues was paramount. The process mainly entailed researching ancient aliens (Egyptian) and seeing how their bottles were designed, then reverse engineering that in CAD.
How did you balance the scientific aspect as well as the minimalist influence of the packaging?
Ryder Ripps: I believe things are pleasant to the eye when their aesthetic is a natural reflection of their function. That is why nature is so beautiful—everything in nature is pure function. Abacus is rooted in science, well-researched ingredients proven to boost energy, so I wanted a design that would naturally reflect this. Consumers are smart; it’s important to be direct.
How did you design the unique bottle shape?
Ryder Ripps: Ancient Aliens spoke to me, just kidding! Conventional pill bottles are bulky and boring. Form followed function here, with the desire to create a pill bottle you can easily fit in your pocket and one that would look attractive on your desk and be photogenic. Energy drinks and coffee are very inconvenient—requiring refrigeration/brewing and you can’t exactly keep them in your pocket. Supplements on the market have a bulky form factor and one would have to carry several bottles and take several pills to get the same effect as Abacus.
How did you design the bottle so that it can only deliver one pill at a time?
Ryder Ripps: Ensuring pills don't spill out of the bottle in mass was very important in designing the bottle. Its pretty simple how we do that, just make the opening significantly more narrow than conventional bottles!
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Ryder Ripps: Redesigning the entire assembly line for packaging pills to accommodate the bottle shape, as it isn’t compatible with traditional capsule filling machines.
If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?
Ryder Ripps: It is so easy to just do the cheapest easiest thing, people fall into this all the time and that’s why there are bad products. I’m most proud of sticking with an unconventional bottle shape even after being told it “could not be done” and making it work even if it meant designing a new system to fill bottles and spending more money. I am also proud that the product works as well as the bottle looks, which took just as much research.
Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.
Ryder Ripps: Use an accurate digital caliper, mock things up in physical space, have intent with every stroke. Don’t let homogeny win.